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(myo͞o`səlĭj), thick, glutinous substance, related to the natural gums, comprised usually of protein, polysaccharides, and uranides. It swells but does not dissolve in water. Mucilage is secreted by the seed covers of various plants, including marsh mallows and flaxes and certain seaweeds; it is the chief constituent of agar. In the plant it sometimes serves to check the loss of water to aid germination, to facilitate seed dispersal, and to store food. It is used in medicine as an emollient and a demulcent. Mucilage is employed also as an adhesive, and the term is extended to include other slimy adhesives, especially solutions of gum, such as tragacanth mucilage.



a substance of plant origin that forms aqueous viscid solutions. Mucilage is found in seeds, roots, and bark, accumulating primarily in mucilage receptacles.

Chemically and physically similar to gums, mucilage contains branched (galactomannans) and linear (glucomannans) polysaccharides. In many forms of vegetation, including flax, plantain, some plants of the Cruciferae family, elm, and rye grain, it contains uronic acid and a variety of neutral carbohydrates. Mucilage is also found in the cell walls and intercellular substances of red and brown algae, for example, in agar, carra-geenin, and alginic acid.

Mucilage’s ability to swell in water enables seeds to absorb water and swell during germination. An accumulation of mucilage in plant tissues increases resistance to drought. Desert plants, such as cacti and spurges, characteristically have a high mucilage content.

Mucilage is used in the medical, pharmacological, food-processing, and metallurgical industries and in the production of paper, textiles, emulsions, and glues.


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A sticky material employed as an adhesive.
A gummy material derived from plants.


1. An adhesive prepared from a gum and water.
2. A liquid adhesive which has low bonding strength.


1. a sticky preparation, such as gum or glue, used as an adhesive
2. a complex glutinous carbohydrate secreted by certain plants
References in periodicals archive ?
Isolation and Characterization of Mucilage from Leaves of Cinnamomum Tamala Nees and Evaluation of Binding Property.
Extraction and characterization of mucilage from Lepidium sativum Linn.
The sea's relative stillness and shallowness make the water column more stable, providing ideal conditions for mucilage formation.
For the new study, Danovaro and colleagues studied historical reports of mucilage in the Mediterranean from 1950 to 2008.
According to study leader Donavaro, "Now we see that the release of pathogens from the mucilage can be potentially problematic for human health.
People who swim through mucilage can also develop skin conditions such as dermatitis, he added.
Watt M, McCully ME, Jeffree CE (1993) Plant and bacterial mucilages of the maize rhizosphere: Comparison of their soil binding properties and histochemistry in a model system.
Root exudates include protons and hydroxyl ions, water-soluble sugars such as sucrose and carboxylic anions, water-insoluble polysaccharides that become mucilage that protects roots and organisms, nitrogen-containing compounds such as amino acids (Merbach et al.
For example, roots in hard soil release more root cap cells and mucilage (Iijima et al.
Although mucilage or thin films of unidentified material have been reported on root hairs (Dart, 1971; Greaves & Darbyshire, 1972; Sprent, 1975; Prin & Rougier, 1986), these papers do not show that the materials originated from the root hairs.
1993), the large quantity of mucilage present within the sheath, at least in Zea mays, has histochemical features of root cap mucilage and not epidermal cell mucilage (Vermeer & McCully, 1982).
Intercellular penetration of the swollen root region by Rhizobium appears to be facilitated by a bacterial erosion of the mucilage of the epidermal primary cell walls at the point of attachment (Bender et al.